Giving Toledo Some Love

I love living in Toledo. I love city life. Sure, it’s not New York or LA, but it’s urban enough that my daughter gets to grow up in a community way more liberal and diverse than where I’m from. That’s really important to me.

However, my rural childhood home is still very near. Toledo feels like a whole different world, but since they put in a new highway several years back, my hometown is a mere 40 minutes away. 

I used to come to Toledo as a child to go shopping or see a movie. People back home saw Toledo as a very dangerous place. Now that I call Toledo home, I see it very differently.

Toledo is a struggling Rust Belt city with high poverty and crime. I’m not going to sugar coat that. But Toledo is the only place I’ve lived where I know my neighbors’ names. My daughter plays with the girl next door. We talk. We look out for each other. Pride and sense of community are very strong here. I love that.

During the week, I work for a local nonprofit that helps the homeless, and I’m very proud to be a part of that mission. Toledo is my home, and I want to make it a better place for all of us.

True, it is very difficult to be an atheist here, but I don’t want to leave. This is my city, too, and I hope somehow I will find a way to create understanding.

I felt compelled to write this post because Toledo is a lovely place to live and people just don’t give it the credit it deserves. Yes, the weather is a little rough and we probably do eat to stay warm, but I love Toledo. If people saw the city the way I do, they would love it, too.

A Poem About Why I Vote

A New War

My fingertips are tattered
from the artillery of a new war.
Secrets don’t exist;
tomorrow is a gamble.

A celebration laid to rest
in the confines of my brain.
I’ll jump on the bandwagon of desperation
because it takes a village to dig out of this hole. 

No options in my fragile reality —
barely exist or die in the machine.
One fading chance for a stable future;
I jump headfirst into a shot at equality.

Let exhaustion fire the first bullet —
one last push for us all.
In a cold world made for just a few,
the masses will rise.

 

Speaking Your Mind vs. Holding Back

I’m sure you’ve heard, “there’s a time and place”, said at some point but I’m pretty sure people mean, “never and not here”, when it comes to my atheism. I retreat to my closet.

Here come the good Christians with their steamrollers. Why is my (dis)belief so offensive that you feel the need to squash it?

I hold back way more than speak my mind. I wish it wasn’t that way but unfortunately, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I know there are others in the same boat.

 

7 Reasons I Don’t Speak Up

 

  1. to avoid confrontation
  2. so I don’t have to explain myself
  3. because we still have to work together and I don’t want it to be awkward
  4. to avoid discrimination
  5. so I can survive Thanksgiving dinner
  6. because you won’t take me seriously
  7. because I was told not to

 

I know it’s necessary to speak up to help others and I feel this blog is giving me that opportunity. I just wish I felt more comfortable being open in my everyday life living and working in Toledo.

 

How about you – do you hold back or speak your mind?

Let’s Revolt

In the Quiet of the Snow

In the quiet of the snow
Tears are stiff and frozen
No longer bleeding down her face.

In the quiet of the snow
Her painful secrets now exposed
And the conditions of your love revealed.

In the quiet of the snow
You left her all alone
The heavy flakes now resting on her shoulders.

In the quiet of the snow
She learns to stand on her own.
A world of warmth awaits her.

In the quiet of the snow
Your tiny world caves in
Weighed down by fairytales and shame.

In the quiet of the snow
Her passion stokes the fire
Illuminating the revolution within our reach.

Are you as angry as I am?

I left my hometown at 18 and never looked back. However, the anger I felt back then lingers nearly 20 years later.

A Childhood Oppressed by Christianity

Back home, Christianity permeated everything. I went to a public school but you would never know it. Sometimes religion was discussed in class. Teachers had religious symbols and posters in their classrooms and there was almost always a prayer at school functions and events. I couldn’t breathe.

I spent a lot of my childhood planning my escape but at the time I didn’t realize how many other children were affected by the oppressive Christianity.

LGBTQ Loved Ones in the Closet

I have since learned that I have many LGBTQ friends and family that spent years – decades even – in the closet living in a place where it’s unsafe to be yourself. I couldn’t imagine the pain and anxiety of being in that situation.

The people I know of are now out but how many more are still trapped in the closet?

Angry in Toledo

Living in Toledo is much easier than living back home even though my hometown isn’t far away. I prefer living in an urban area where my daughter will experience lots of opportunities and diversity.

But still, I get angry in Toledo, too. Many Christians are very outspoken here and it’s hard not to be offended. It’s the Midwest and judgments are never far away.

I’ve held on to this anger for years and recently found poetry to be a good outlet.

 

I want to hear about your anger. Tell me I’m not alone.

A Poem About Leaving Home

A big part of my story as an atheist is leaving the conservative rural area where I grew up. It’s often the focus in my poetry.

 

In the Back of a Pick-Up

Brittle bones chilled
beneath frost moon eyes –
she clings to the bed of a truck.
Sticky pebbles cling to the hungry tires –
rough road ahead.
Pink sunset flickers
through the singing leaves above.
Alfalfa fields pass by in a blur.
She tightens her grip
as her curls sail in the wind.
She’s imprisoned by a home with the biggest sky
but barely a pinprick on the map.
One day despair will grow wings
and a sheltered childhood will fuel her adventures.
She shivers in the cold
and never looks back.

How are you treated as an atheist?

Being involved with FtB has made me really curious —

How are atheists treated where you live?

Living in a more conservative area of the US I don’t always feel safe speaking openly and I know very few atheists in real life (three to be exact but two moved out of the area). I’ve learned living here that it’s easier to just let people assume you’re a Christian even though it feels miserable.

I know that there are places where atheists are the majority and are living openly and safe, but then I know there are places where you can be sentenced to death if you are believed to be an atheist.

Where does your home fall on the spectrum?

I love being an atheist poet.

I love writing poetry and atheism is a topic I visit frequently in my poems. Many of my poems are imaginative which sometimes creates an interesting juxtaposition. I write about common sense, the bible being a fictional work and logic all in flowery language and fantastical narrative. Sometimes my poems are really out there.

However, I also write poems about love, empathy, and resilience, which are also important parts of atheism. I write about my passions and I love being able to share the different aspects of my life as an atheist.

I’m an introvert and definitely not much of a talker. This is why writing is so important to me. It’s a way for me to share my story and connect with others without all the awkwardness and anxiety. I love writing articles and blog posts, but I’m definitely drawn to the freedom and creativity of poetry.

I hope you don’t mind me sharing my poems now and again. It’s nice to have an outlet.

God always gets all the credit.

I hate it when someone recovers from a medical condition and god gets all the credit. It’s a miracle! He’s either good or mysterious, right? If I was a doctor that would infuriate me.

But there’s something even worse.

A few years ago, a friend of mine overcame a hardship at work. This friend – who had never been religious in the past – credited god for her success. She said she couldn’t do it on her own so god must have been helping her. Well, obviously she could do it and it’s absolutely heartbreaking that she couldn’t recognize her own inner strength.

People are resilient and should take credit for their personal accomplishments.

Of course, this inspired me to write a poem…

 

You Didn’t Need God

You said you couldn’t do it alone
But you did.
We are all powerful
In our own lives.
Scale that jagged cliff,
Surf those tempest-swept waters–
You are in charge.
You’re secretly surefooted,
Resourceful with undiscovered confidence.
What you think is strength in god
Is really strength within yourself.
You are more capable than you know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reproductive Rights for My Daughter

I am a strong pro-choice supporter. Toledo only has one abortion clinic left, and it struggles with everything from vandalism to Ohio’s backward legislation. But they are hanging on with everything they’ve got for the reproductive rights of us here in Northwest Ohio.

Abortion in Ohio

Separation of church and state is a nice idea, but in Ohio, it’s painfully obvious that it doesn’t exist. Ohio has passed some of the strictest abortion laws in the country, and now many of our state senators are urging the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade.

The Religious Right Destroys Our Future

Without access to abortion, the religious right holds women’s fate in shackles. Since women are the ones who bear children, it is so important to our future that women are able to choose when and if they will have children.

The only reasoning for these laws comes from scripture. If you don’t like abortion – fine. Don’t get one. But don’t use your religion to control everyone else. You’ve been doing that for centuries.

Rights for My Family in Ohio

Ohio is my home and I don’t want to be anywhere else, but sometimes I feel guilty raising a daughter here. She deserves better.

When I was 16, I spent a year abroad in Denmark so I know first hand that there are places where reproductive rights aren’t contested. I don’t want to leave Ohio to attain rights and equality. This is my home and I want it here.

As a mother, I want what’s best for my daughter and I feel like I shouldn’t have to look far from home to get it. Reproductive rights are so essential to our future. I hope progress will be made and one day our oppressed reality will be the distant past for my daughter.R